As a creative agency in Manchester, we are very aware of the rising popularity of virtual reality design. After all, the major players such as Apple, Google, Oculus, Facebook, Microsoft and Sony, are all jumping on board. But, what is virtual reality and how is it affecting design?

Well, virtual reality is basically just software that is designed to be immersive. Think about your mobile phone, for example, it is a tiny screen that we often take for granted. Virtual reality is the opposite of that – it uses a large headset in order to fill your entire field of view with an image. It is responsive too, so if you turn your head left, for example, you will be able to see to the left of the image. Equally, if you turn your head to the right, you can see to the right of the image. As this field of design is so new, the majority of images at the moment are also 3D.

Virtual reality has been around since 1955, but has recently taken off. Using our knowledge as one of the leading Manchester graphic design agencies, we think this is due to two main reasons. Firstly, technology has advanced so much in recent years that it has finally become feasible to put virtual reality design within the reach of more people. The development of smartphones has meant we now have really sharp image displays that we can put really close to our eyeballs without them becoming pixelated. Costs have also been reduced on specialist components, such as accelerometers, to track head movements.

The second reason is the popularity of Kickstarter campaigns; the best example of this is Oculus VR. The people behind Oculus built a prototype Virtual Reality headset in a garage, and then they put it on Kickstarter to raise funds to produce it. The world bought into their campaign big time, blasting through their $250,000 fundraising goal in days and handing them a pile of cash that was close to $2.4 million. The company garnered so much attention that Facebook then bought them out for $2billion (which didn’t go down well with their Kickstarter funders).

But, what did Facebook want with a Virtual Reality headset? Well interestingly enough the company see the future of Facebook as a ‘metaverse’, so instead of posting updates to each other, we can actually walk along a virtual street and converse with each other. However, this is still merely a vision at the moment. The technology behind it is so complicated that many companies are finding it hard to tackle. For example, to make it work, companies offering virtual reality designs have to: map out the whole of the world using the digital internet, be able to map your position in real time with GPS, analyse what is happening around you with a camera, and then beam any related information to your headset via the cloud. As a company who deal with creative design in Manchester, we understand what a tough job that would be!

Although, there are companies which are trying to do so. Microsoft is busy developing the HoloLens, and Google are backing a headset by MagicLeap, who are developing a tiny projector to shoot images directly onto your eyes. Amazing stuff, right? Now, let’s say that all this hardware does get developed, as a creative agency in Manchester what most interests us is whether anyone is making content for it. Well obviously, the games sector is right behind it and are already pledging support and looking at ways of developing graphics and physical engines for it. Interestingly enough, sports broadcasters are looking into this too, as it could be a way for everyone to have a virtual front row seat at every game. Last week both Apple and Google announced that they are both stepping up their efforts to design for virtual reality.

So, how will virtual reality affect design? We guess it is a little early to tell, but it is something that we will definitely be keeping an eye on.

For more information on Reform Creative, and the creative design services we offer, please call us on 0161 236 0054 or email us at hello@reformcreative.co.uk

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